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FTSE surge gives DFMs food for thought on UK equities

While Asset Allocator has made a slumbering start to January, the FTSE 100 has raced into the new year and when we started writing this, it dancing around record high levels - though typically in the 24 hours since then it hasn't been going quite as well.

So we thought we would revisit the database of multi-asset outlook pieces we gathered at the start of the year, to assess what the allocators we cover were expecting at the close of last year.

And it's actually fairly positive news, with only a handful of those we covered coming into 2023 with a negative view on the domestic equity market, namely JP Morgan and BlackRock.

Of the multi-asset houses we cover most - 50 per cent - were neutral on UK equities.

Within the DFM space more specifically, the average allocation to UK equity funds at the end of November 2022 was 15 per cent, with Morningstar having the largest exposure at 24.65 per cent. 

It's quite bunched at the top, with the Evelyn Active portfolios also having an exposure of greater than 24 per cent, while Evelyn Core, Close Brothers and Brooks Macdonald are among the allocators with an exposure above 20 per cent. 

At the other end of the distribution, Charles Stanley has the sharpest underweight, with an exposure of just 4 per cent to UK equities, while Invesco holds just 7.3 per cent of the capital in its balanced portfolio in UK equities. 

It is a curiosity of 2022 that many cautious mandates underperformed relative to their more aggressive peers, largely as a function of bond market exposure, but also through having less invested in value stocks, which are often more cyclical and which outperformed in 2022. 

The average exposure to UK equity funds in the cautious portfolios of the DFMs we cover is 6.8 per cent.

The cautious portfolio with the largest deployment to UK equity funds is Close Brothers, with 19 per cent.

Close Brothers Asset Management chief investment officer Robert Alster came into the year cautious on both equities and bonds, but it seems the value equity part of the market is the bit he finds most attractive right now.

Brooks Macdonald's cautious MPS has the next highest exposure to UK equity funds, at 15.89 per cent.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ben Gutteridge and his team at Invesco have allocated just 1 per cent to UK equity funds, and Charles Stanley just 3 per cent. 

One wonders how all of those allocations could change, and client perception around the UK market, if the FTSE 100 continues to steal the limelight.

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